Finished object

Taking a new route to making a scarf (and a new pattern)

One interesting aspect of knitting is that looking at something sideways can give you  a new way to create something.

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This is the case with the Wayward Paths scarf – a flat fringed scarf that is actually knitted in the round and cut – yes cut.

This means the width of the stitch pattern repeats down the long side of the scarf – that is the rows go right along the scarf. This means you can use stitch patterns in a different way.

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I got the idea from my friend Juliet Bernard who used this method to create the stunning Jardin Majorelle colourwork wrap for The Knitter.

I was intrigued by the method but am more of a texture and lace person so started wondering how else it could be used. I happened to have received two sample balls of Debbie Bliss Iris, a chunky wool/cashmere roving yarn, that were crying out to be a soft, comforting scarf. So I decided to experiment.

I chose a garter stitch chevron pattern and worked a section of stocking stitch at the beginning and end of each round. Then I worked until I had used much of my yarn. When I cast off I had a basic cowl with a zigzag lace pattern round the majority of the loop with a shorter section of plain stocking stitch stripes.

The stocking stitch section or “steek” is where the fringes come from. All you do is cut straight up the centre of the steek and unravel the stocking stitch section to create the fringe.

Steek fringe 4

You can see from this picture that when you pin out a piece of stocking stitch there are “ladders” between the column of stitches and in the case of the Wayward Path scarf you cut up the centre ladder of the steek section (here I have used an unneeded swatch).

Once the stitches are cut, unravelling makes a lovely fringe – your knitting won’t unravel but I knot the strands in pairs to feel secure.

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I am involved with UK Hand Knitting which this year is encouraging people to share knitting and crochet skills. Because of this, at the moment the Wayward Path pattern is free because a steek fringe using chunky yarn is a fairly non-threatening way to take scissors to your knitting for the first time.

The pattern contains some suggestions for other yarns but any nice chunky will work – so why not step off your regular end to end scarf path and give it a go.

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Rearranging the shelves in WH Smith - new autumnal design

I came late to sharing my knitting designs let alone  receiving commissions from magazines and yarn companies.

I have had a long career as a journalist but I still remember the excitement of having a bylined piece in a major national newspaper for the first time. I had to suppress the urge to tap fellow tube passengers on the shoulder, point to the article they were reading and say "I wrote that".

The same sort of thing has happened each time I have had a design on the cover of a magazine. Right now I could happily spend time in various branches of WH Smith rearranging the hobbies shelf so that there are lots of copies of Knitting (issue 172) along the front to show off my Autumn Leaves tunic.

Autumn leaves cover

I love the editorial description that the mag team came up with. It sums the pattern up as the perfect mix of challenge and TV knitting because there is some instarsia and plenty of stocking stitch.

Autumn leaves main

It is designed to be a simple flattering piece for over leggings or a skirt that is a comfortable but striking seasonal garment.

Yarn used is Yarn Stories fine merino 4-ply - very smooth with strong colours which work well for this design.

The magazine has come up with some alternative colour combinations that make the leaves seam more like feathers.

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New pattern: Tea time sweater (and tea cosy)

I love vintage patterns and have piles of old knitting magazines from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, so I was very excited when Christine Boggis, the editor of Knitting magazine, put out a call for knits inspired by the 40s.

Even more so because for a while I had had a picture of a vintage teapot that I wanted to use as a template for a colourwork jumper and I realised this was great fit for the brief. Colourwork and stripes were popular choices for sweaters in the 1940s because rationing meant people often reused wool and only had limited supplies.

Tea collage 1I named my design sketch Tea Time and included the story of the teapot in my submission. Soon Christine cam back to me saying she like the design and could I do a tea cosy to go with it. An unusual request bit fun and one that now makes a lot of sense having seen how the magazine styled its shoot this month.

Teapot

Tea Time  comes in eight sizes and use Yarn Stories Fine Merino 4ply.

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New pattern: Spring Leaf cardigan

The new issue of Knitting magazine is out and it includes my Spring Leaf cardigan. A simple draping cardigan for over a light top or dress.

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It has a bolero shape with a curved hem line and the leaf edging is knitted on so the leaves grow up the front symmetrically. The leaf pattern is based on a Victorian edging from the Knitting and Crochet Guild archive.

Spring leaf scan collage

It is one of those knits that is much easier than it might a appear at first glance at the pattern.

The yarn is Lotus Yarns Tibetan Cloud Worsted - my first time using 100% Yak - which is lovely and soft and very rich colourwise with the right drape for this project. 


New pattern: Inishmore cable jumper

I love a cable or two. They add interest to both design and the process of knitting and you can use them to aid construction or shaping, so I was very excited a few months ago when the editor of Knitting magazine put out a call for design submissions for a cable special.

I was even more excited when I was commissioned to produce my modern take on a traditional aran-style cable jumper in a natural off-white yarn. 

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It was a design I'd enjoyed coming up with and it was also a sample I really enjoyed producing (I just need the time to make one for myself).

Given how much I loved this design, it was a true pleasure to see it as the cover garment for the March 2017 issue of Knitting.

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The magazine has labelled the design as "advanced" but don't be alarmed, if you have mastered basic cables, all that is happening here is and arrangement of various types, the technique is the same. Take a look at my posts on understanding cable instructions to boost your confidence (part 1, part 2, part 3)

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I used New Lanark Aran for the design - an affordable, hard working yarn that I am a big fan of and one that comes in a wide colour palette. Knitting has some suggestions about other colour choices.

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I am really looking forward to seeing versions of this cosy jumper.


New Pattern: The ZigZag cardie

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Introducing ZigZag, my new cardigan design in Knitting issue 164.

This longish, empire line cardigan is a flattering shape with a lovely drape thanks to the yarn which is Yarn Stories fine merino 4-ply. 

I'd wanted to make something in this yarn since I'd first come across it and especially in this colour combination of dove and french navy. So the Knitting "Winter Blues" issue was the perfect opportunity, especially as I think 4-ply cardigans are very useful layering garments in winter (in particular one as changeable as this).

The graduate stripes keep the interest when knitting and create shape, especially at the back.

Zigzag 5I enjoyed creating this pattern a lot and am thinking of making one for myself in another colourway - perhaps chocolate and burnt sienna or bottle and taupe.

In the meantime I am working on another design in this yarn that I can't reveal yet but again I'm enjoying the colour combinations

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Finished object: Sick bed cardie

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I had knee surgery last week. The operation happened at quite short notice so I had quite a lot of reorganising to do, so it was the evening before the operation that I realised I had a knitting snag.

I knew I would have a long nil-by-mouth wait before the op which meant I needed something to distract me and after the op there would be a quite a lot resting time where I would also need pass-times so a knitting project was a must. The problem was my current projects:

  • lace tunic sample
  • sock on 2mm needles
  • 2 designs I'm still tweaking the patterns for

This wasn't my first knee op so I knew that I'd spend a few days somewhat hazy thanks to the general anaesthetic and the painkillers - some which leave me uncoordinated and a bit confused regarding left and right. So patterns requiring concentration or decision-making.

Luckily this is where having an extensive pattern collection and an "adequate" stash comes in. I needed something that was going to present me with no problems or tricky decisions but handily I had just the thing. 

In my stash there was a pack of ten balls of Bergere de France Baronval (60% wool, 40% acrylic) I bought on my visit to the factory last year and which I would not mind messing up a project with (it only cost me about 10 euros for the whole pack).

I also had a great cardigan pattern - A Gray Cardigan by Sally Melville - which I've made before. This meant I also had my notes about any modifications I made, how many rows in each section, etc.

And so a quiet and very sleepy week later I have a new cosy and practical cardigan. The Baronval is very soft and quite a thick DK so I'm hoping it will be a hardwearing, winter layering item, it was certainly a comfortable yarn to knit with.

I'm already wearing it because I even had the perfect button in my tin.

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